While Clay and Will were off to Monster Truck Jam over the weekend, Joe and I decided to take in a double feature and went to see The King’s Speech and Tangled. I had already seen the first one and really wanted Joe to see it too, it was just so excellent. I had received so many e-mails encouraging me to see Tangled that I was delighted to finally have a chance before it left the theaters and am I glad that I did! To all of you who kept telling me it serves up the patriocentric message, Disney style, it certainly does!
A month ago I read a review of this movie that left me a little puzzled. Already knowing the basic story line, I wondered how anyone could ever find sympathy with a lying, conniving, self-serving kidnapper but after having watched the film, it made perfect sense to me if you swallow a patriocentric paradigm along with your popcorn.
Rapunzel, the heroine of Tangled, is one of the sweetest Disney girls to come along and reminded me so much of the lovely homeschooled young ladies I know, many of them who also enjoy all the domestic skills the young heroine perfected in her tower. The adventure story itself is quite charming, complete with quirky characters and loveable talking animals. The artwork is gorgeous; the scene with the lanterns across the dark blue night time sky is one of the most beautiful I can remember in an animated feature. And yet, the backdrop of all that loveliness is a sharp contrast to the grievous story of a young woman trapped in a loveless home, longing to enjoy the world she can only see from her window.. Only those who have never experienced or observed such similar behavior in some patriocentric homes could find this simply entertaining. Some of it hit just too close to home for me.
From the beginning when we learn that the wicked Mother Gothel has stolen away the princess and used her for her own selfish purposes, there is something eerily familiar about her character and the story. She tells Rapunzel that the world is an evil place, that she is foolish to be interested in going out into it, that she should be content with her stay-at-home daughter life. Mother Gothel reminds the girl that she is her mother, after all, and she knows what is best for Rapunzel because she loves her so much. The message is one of fear, manipulation, and control, one we have witnessed many times in the writings of those who embrace this paradigm.
As opportunity presents itself and the princess leaves the tower in her quest to understand the mysterious lanterns that are sent into the sky each year on her birthday, Rapunzel struggles between the conflicting waves of guilt over leaving and disappointing the women she believes is her mother and her desire to understand herself and the world around her. The fluctuating emotions are exactly what I have heard from adult daughters who have left patriocentric households and who struggle with the fruits of emotional and spiritual abuse. They so long to please mothers they deeply love and yet long to become women in their own right.
I know I have spent much time discussing and researching the patriocentric movement on this blog and have used the word to describe the father-centered nature of the paradigm and I would still maintain that, though there is no over-bearing father holding Rapunzel captive in a remote tower, the story applies. But the fact is that I have long believed patriocentricity to be a woman-driven paradigm, one where mothers and wives are pushing the agenda and paralyzing their families with fear. My e-mails confirm this. By far the majority of letters I receive are from mothers who are grieving over having followed the siren song of Doug Phillips et al and they want to repent before it is too late. In nearly every situation, their husbands rejected these nutty teachings a long time ago and it is their wives who are the true patriocentrists! Indeed, the most vocal supporters of this movement are the hundreds of women bloggers who are Vision Forum affiliates. Where are all the men who do likewise?
As the story resolves itself and Rapunzel is restored to her own mother and father, the king and queen, and to her own position in the kingdom, one of ministering to and serving others, I couldn’t help but be reminded of 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Isn’t that the true home where all young women, where all of us truly belong?
A royal priesthood, God’s own possession, now that’s something to let your hair down about!
*One note for clarification: Let me just say that I am not a huge fan of the Disney princesses simply because their story lines always include the message that a handsome prince is necessary for ultimate joy and lifelong happiness. That, itself, is a very patriocentric notion, making these girls “normative.” Who knew Walt was so “biblical?” Also explains why I am still waiting for someone to create Gladys Alward or Amy Carmichael action figures!